‘I fought fair’: Newly-crowned Miss Universe Philippines denies VIP treatment during competition

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26)— Newly-crowned Miss Universe Philippines Rabiya Mateo denied receiving preferential treatment during the competition, saying she fought fair and worked hard to clinch the coveted pageant title.

Masasabi ko talaga na there was no VIP treatment sa akin. Pinaghirapan ko lahat-lahat, pinagdaanan ko ‘yung dapat pagdaanan para manalo,” Mateo said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ Balitaan on Monday, a day after she was named as the country’s next representative to the Miss Universe pageant.

[Translation: I can say that there really was no VIP treatment for me. I worked hard for everything, I underwent through all the processes needed in order to win.]

After the contest wrapped up, netizens noticed some cryptic social media posts from one Miss Universe-Philippines candidate, who wrote “real queens play fair, don’t cheat” on her Instagram story. The contestant, however, did not divulge further.

Mateo, for her part, said she understands where the candidates were coming from — especially at the height of the competition.

"It kind of breaks my heart…" she said. "Pero alam ko sa sarili ko na lumaban ako nang patas (I know in my heart that I fought fair and square.)"

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Ilongga also reflected on how her “underdog” status helped her perform better and navigate the competition without added pressure from the public.

“It was a combination of enjoying the moment, and at the same time, having the right pressure from yourself— not from other people,” Mateo pointed out.

“During the start of the competition, I wasn’t even on the prediction list of most of the pageant bloggers…" the Iloilo Cty bet added. "It doesn’t mean na pag malalakas ‘yung mga kalaban mo (if your opponents are strong) is you don’t have a chance. You just need to know when to peak. And I feel like I peaked at the right time.”

Mateo said she would be meeting with the Miss Universe Philippines management by next week regarding the plans and preparations for her stint in the prestigious global beauty derby.